BY MELISSA WISTEHUFF
From art museums to historic homes, the Triangle offers a rich supply of cultural experiences for local families to explore together. Here are some we recommend checking out.
North Carolina Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh
Discover art for all ages with family-friendly tours, explore sculptures outdoors at the Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park and create your own works of art in the Family Studio
workshops. View the permanent
collection and a variety of traveling
exhibits. The North Carolina Museum of Art has something for everyone.
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Drive, Durham
Located on the Duke University campus, Nasher Museum of Art presents leading-edge contemporary exhibitions that travel worldwide, with an emphasis on diverse artists who have been historically underrepresented by mainstream arts institutions. The museum also offers performing arts events, lectures, gallery talks and social gatherings.
409 W. Martin Street, Raleigh
CAM Raleigh is a “non-collecting contemporary art museum.” In addition to bold exhibits by living artists, the museum offers educational programs and cultural experiences for a wide range of ages. The museum is located in the Warehouse District, within walking distance from Raleigh’s Union Station and Morgan Street Food Hall.
Kidzu Children’s Museum
201 S. Estes Drive, Chapel Hill
Located inside University Place, Kidzu Children’s Museum is a hands-on children’s museum inspiring kids to learn through play—and play is not in short supply! Your littles can climb a rock wall, shop for menu ingredients and then make a meal in the Millhouse Kitchen, explore their inner Picasso in the Makery, and learn about plants outdoors in the Learning Garden. Ask about cooldown kits for children who have specific sensory needs.
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett Street, Raleigh
A kid’s paradise, Marbles Kids Museum allows your child’s imagination to run wild. Drive a bus, work as a banker, captain a pirate ship or skate into hockey stardom. If you can dream it, it can happen at this colorful museum that also offers year-round track-out and summer camps, birthday parties and field trips. Stay for lunch at Bean Sprouts and watch a movie at Marbles IMAX, Raleigh’s only certified giant screen. Also, reimagined water play is coming to Marbles Kids Museum in June 2023 through the support of generous donors and community members. The new water table will provide one-of-a-kind play and exploration for kids of all ages and abilities.
SCIENCE + AGRICULTURE MUSEUMS
Morehead Planetarium and Science Center
250 E. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill
Located on the UNC–Chapel Hill campus, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is truly out of this world. Fully immerse yourself in a screening of a space program on the 360-degree dome movie screen while reclined in your seat. Attend the Magic Treehouse Space Mission, based on the beloved book series, and join Jack and Annie while they solve a mysterious riddle.
Randleigh Dairy Heritage Museum
301 Dairy Lane, Raleigh
Learn about how milk gets from the farm to the table at this North Carolina State University agritourism site and interactive museum. Discover how a typical North Carolina dairy operates—how cows are raised and produce milk, and how that milk is used to make products like delicious Howling Cow ice cream, which you can try on-site at the Howling Cow Creamery—or purchase at local Harris Teeters.
North Carolina Museum
of Natural Sciences
11 W. Jones Street, Raleigh
With four floors to scout, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is paradise for burgeoning scientists. Research labs offer insight into the life of nature analysts—and a chance for kids to test out their investigation skills—all while donning white lab coats and goggles. The “Dueling Dinosaurs” permanent exhibition will open this year, uncovering a remarkable paleontological discovery: the most complete fossils of a tyrannosaurus and triceratops ever found, locked together at their time of death.
Museum of Life and Science
433 W. Murray Avenue, Durham
Explore the great outdoors—and indoors—at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, which sits on an 84-acre campus and includes a two-story science center and one of the East Coast’s largest butterfly conservatories. The museum’s newest exhibit, “Play to Learn,” opened in March and features a range of interactive activities for children ages 5 and younger. Examine Apollo-era space artifacts, dig for dinosaur fossils, escape in a “Hideaway Woods” treehouse and make animal friends at this Durham gem, which is an Association of Zoos and Aquariums–accredited zoo that also offers a home to rescued black bears, lemurs, endangered red wolves and 60-plus species of live animals
HISTORY MUSEUMS + HISTORIC SITES
(formerly Raleigh City Museum)
220 Fayetteville Street, Raleigh
Located in the historic Briggs Hardware building, COR Museum showcases what COR stands for: the City of Raleigh. With the goal of preserving Raleigh’s people, places, resources and history, visitors learn about the city’s fascinating history and role in the Civil War, World War II and civil rights movement. Come for the beautiful architecture; leave with a deeper appreciation for the City of Oaks.
Joel Lane Museum House
160 S. Saint Mary’s Street, Raleigh
Built in 1769, the Joel Lane House is considered Wake County’s oldest existing home, and has been nicknamed the “Birthplace of Raleigh.” Joel Lane, a prominent statesman and soldier, sold 1,000 acres of his plantation for the formation of the new state capital in 1792. Take a tour of the fully restored and authentically furnished house and its period gardens as costumed tour guides lead the way.
North Carolina Museum of History
5 E. Edenton Street, Raleigh
Walk through the history of our state, venturing through traveling and permanent exhibits. Sit in a 1920s drugstore or meander through “The Story of North Carolina,” which spotlights American Indian life through the civil rights movement. Sports fans won’t want to miss the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, which features 200-plus relics of the state’s sports history—from Tobacco Road rivals to NASCAR legends.
North Carolina Railway Museum and New Hope Valley Railway
3900 Bonsal Road, New Hill
A quick trip to New Hill (near Apex) connects train aficionados with a historic railroad. Visitors can chug along on a one-hour ride in a real locomotive, then learn about railroad history inside the museum. The trains operate April through December. If your kid really loves trains, consider a birthday celebration inside the Birthday Party Caboose. Look for tickets to the railway’s popular Track or Treat and Santa’s Reindeer Roundup train rides, which go on sale in July. (Both sell out quickly.)
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